150 killed in fresh Nigeria violence
MONROVIA/ABUJA WITNESSES said parts of Kano resembled “a war zone” on Saturday, in the aftermath of a spate of coordinated attacks by Islamist militants that killed at least 150 people.
The streets of Nigeria’s second- largest city were largely deserted on Saturday after a 24-hour curfew was imposed.
But witnesses said they saw bodies lying amid the rubble of shops and houses.
Hospital sources said that over 150 bodies were taken to morgues.
Many more were wounded, some critically, and sources said the death toll was expected to rise further. Hospitals were urgently seeking blood donations.
The attacks, which targeted at least four sites around the city - including police and immigration offices and a motor park – were launched on Friday.
Witnesses said teenagers on motorbikes carried out the blasts. Gunfire also broke out.
At one site, the police headquarters in the area of Marhaba, a suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives into the wall of the building.
At an immigration office, at least three officers were shot dead on the spot before explosives were hurled.
Witness Jafaru Isaw said he saw “mangled bodies being removed from the debris,” followed by “intermittent gunshots.” “It looked like one of those incredulous things you see in a war movie, the shootings were deafening,” he said.
Among the dead was 31- year-old television journalist Eneche Akogwu, who had been interviewing witnesses of the attacks. Journalist Kolade Adeyemi told The Nation newspaper that he was with Akogwu when he was shot dead.
“The bombs began to rain,” he said. “We quickly left to go and find out what was happening.
Akogwu got down with his camera to record the unfolding scene.
“Within a few seconds he was out of sight. I called Akogwu’s two lines which kept ringing but there was no response from him. I then tried to go and locate him only to find him in a pool of blood having been shot in the chest. He died on the spot.” The bombings are the worst to hit Nigeria in recent months.
They follow a spate of attacks on churches on Christmas Day, in which at least 40 people were killed.
The radical Islamist group Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day blasts as well as an attack on the United Nations headquarters in Abuja in August, said it was behind Friday’s attacks.
In a statement, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said: “Ours is a campaign against the government, the law enforcement and the Christian Association of Nigeria, because they have slaughtered us.” Boko Haram is calling for Sharia law to be implemented across Nigeria, and for recognition of growing tensions between the country’s predominately Christian south and Muslim north.
Police stations are an obvious target for the group.
President Goodluck Jonathan has boosted the numbers of the emergency taskforce, and police raids on the homes and factories of suspected Boko Haram militants have increased.
The country’s police chief, Hafiz Ringim, called for an investigation into Friday’s blasts, which he described as “well-coordinated attacks.” But Ringim is under investigation himself after a suspect, charged with carrying out Christmas Day bombings on churches, escaped from police custody earlier this week.